An MTA subway extension involves eminent domain. What does that mean for property owners?

May 24, 2023 – Media Mention
New York Business Journal

Chair of Herrick's Eminent Domain Practice, Jennifer Polovetsky, was quoted by the New York Business Journal in an article discussing the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) plans to extend the Second Avenue Subway from its current 96th Street terminus to the 125th Street station, building two new stations at 106th and 116th streets.

The article notes, "Eminent domain statutes are broad in New York, according to Jennifer Polovetsky, who currently represents clients impacted by the eminent domain-related proceedings in the Second Ave Subway project. Though property owners can challenge acquisition plans, once their properties have been pinpointed, there’s little they can do."

Jennifer states, "It's really interesting how in other states, it's a lot easier to stop an eminent domain acquisition than it is in New York... In New York, it's virtually impossible to stop an eminent domain acquisition so long as the government has complied with all of their statutory obligations."

The article continues, "After the city has made an offer, property owners can challenge the offer by getting an appraisal on the building and negotiate a higher number. City agencies often make offers based on existing use, not best-use analysis, according to Polovetsky, meaning that offers may be lower than the property’s highest use value. However, if a client does not want to sell the property at all, keeping the building is often not an option, Polovetsky said. The only exception is if the government has no intentions for the site yet as the city cannot hoard properties."

"I tell my clients, if you want to challenge it, we can challenge it, but we really need a basis to challenge it on. You can't just say I don't want this to happen because that's not a valid reason," Jennifer notes.

"People buy property with the intent for the most part of keeping it," Jennifer added. "It's an emotional thing for a lot of people."

Click here to read the full article in the New York Business Journal. Access may require a subscription.